Writers don’t have to be broke. But they do have to know how to make money as a creative writer.
It can be easy to think that you’ll never make any money as a writer if you don’t have a novel to be sold, but that’s not the case.
There are plenty of ways that writers can make money, even if they’ve never published.There are plenty of ways that writers can make money, even if they've never published. Check out these moneymaking ideas! Click To Tweet
I’ve been making money as a writer now for the past 10 years, and today I’m sharing my favorite ways to make money.
Also if you’d like, you can check out my video about how I got into freelance writing.
How to Make Money as a Creative Writer
001: Freelance Feature Writing
Before I published anything on this blog, I was published in newspapers. And while this can sound super intimidating if you’ve only ever written fiction, I promise it’s a lot easier than you think.
While you definitely won’t be hired to write hard news stories without a legit journalism background, there are tons of newspapers and magazines that are looking for writers to cover restaurant reviews and advertorial content.
Next time you go out to eat, check the free publication stands in the lobby. Read these to see which one you’d like to write for and to get an idea of writing style. Figure out a few stories you’d like to pitch, and if you don’t have a portfolio, go ahead and write those stories.
This will give the editors something to look out so they can determine if you’re a good fit or not.
Each of these publications will have their contact information listed inside. From there, find the editor, and shoot them an email with your pitches and links to your portfolio, or your attached stories.
002: Self-Publish Novellas
The fun thing about writing novellas is that you can write the draft of one relatively quickly. At least, quicker than you can write a novel.
And if you’re writing in a popular genre, chances are readers are eager to gobble up what you’re writing.
So, do a little research into what genres readers are into, and start writing some novellas. It’s great practice for writing in general, and once you’re done, you can create a cover for your novella and publish it as an ebook on Amazon’s KDP platform.
It’s worth noting that this may not be the best way to get your name out there, especially if you’re writing in a genre that you don’t want to be known for.
But it’s a great way to set up a passive income stream and maybe build some notoriety around a pseudonym.
003: Start a Blog
Okay. Let’s be real. You aren’t going to start a blog and make millions from the start. It definitely takes a lot of time and consistency to build a blog, so this is a long con.
If you’re willing to write about popular topics, it can be an easy way to build up a lot of search traffic. From there, you can monetize with ad revenue and affiliate links. And of course, passive income products like ebooks and ecourses are great ways to make money.
But, because this is something that can take a long time to build up, I do recommend choosing a topic that you can happily write about.
From there, it’s a matter of researching your niche and keywords that will bring people to your blog, and of course, consistently publishing content.
For more on blogging, check out this post on good blogging habits, and this one on the best blogging tools. And if you feel like you need a bit of blogging education, check out this post on the best blogging skillshare classes.
004: Get on Medium
So, I have to be honest. In the past month, Medium has changed the structure of their payouts on their Medium partnership program, so I can’t tell you how much you will make here.
But, I will say that there are writers who write for Medium full-time.
While the payout system has always been a little unclear, Medium has stated that now they are looking for pieces that keep readers on the platform. So, pieces that keep readers engaged and reading through the whole thing are what tend to make money.
This is a departure from the old way, where claps (Medium’s form of likes) and comments were the only forms of engagement they were looking for.
So, if you’re the type of person who likes to write longer pieces that make readers think and keep them engaged, this is a great way to start making some money on that work. And it’s super easy to sign up. There’s no vetting process — you just check a box.
And if you like writing 3,000 to 5,000 word essays, you should definitely jump on Medium.
(And, I guess I should say, I have a whole content schedule for Medium in 2020, so stay tuned!)
005: Teach Classes and Workshops
One of the great things about writing is it’s something you can teach to others.
Whether you’re a novelist, a blogger, a journalist, or a short story writer, you can always teach others how to do what it is you do.Whether you're a novelist, a blogger, a journalist, or a short story writer, you can always teach others how to do what it is you do. Click To Tweet
If you like doing stuff online, setting up an ecourse and selling it from your online platform is a great way to make some cash. But if you like doing stuff in person, you can always contact your local votech, adult education center, or library, and see if they’re willing to pay you to teach!
And, you can always hold your own workshops in meeting rooms or conference centers.
006: Host Writing Retreats
This is a small dream I have, and maybe it’ll be a reality in 2020.
Hosting writing retreats for other writers is not only a great way to make money, it’s a great way to network with other writers.
So, if you’re cool with organizing a retreat at a lake cabin or AirBnB, you can deal with all the logistics — reservations, food, and scheduling — and then sell tickets to other writers to your retreats.
And in the process of organizing these retreats, you may be able to build a relationship with the host location. And form there, scheduling future retreats should be a breeze.
Ghostwriting isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, I would argue it’s the worst idea on this list.
Ghostwriting clients can be pretty demanding, and a lot of them aren’t familiar with the writing process. (Hence why they’re paying people to do it.)
But if you find someone who is worth working for, then I say go for it. Definitely don’t respond to the Craigslist ads of folks looking for ghostwriters.
This is also a great way to get testimonials for your writing. So if you can find a good client who will speak your praises and recommend you to other good potential clients, do it.
008: Travel Writing
If you like to travel and dream of writing about it, it’s probably time to start your travel writing career.
The only thing is, this isn’t going to look like you think it will.
Magazines and newspapers don’t have the money to pay an untested writer to do the work. But with a few clips, a lot of visitors bureaus and tourism boards are more than happy to have you write about them.
If you’ve got a specific angle, make sure you pitch it. For example, I like to pitch stories about using specific locations as creative retreats or writer vacations. And my blog as a portfolio supports that pitch.
So look into some places that you’d like to write about, and then pitch the visitor’s bureau. Many of them will pay you a lot to write posts for their websites, or for posts on your blog.
009: Tutor Students
And finally, if you like to edit and help others become better writers, you should look into tutoring.
Platforms like Varsity Tutors and Chegg will pay you to tutor via their online platforms. But it’s worth noting that you won’t make much doing it. (Both platforms charge A LOT to the students, and they end up paying the tutors only a small percentage of that.)
But if you live in a community where you can post signs up on bulletin boards and are willing to meet students at the library, coffee shop, or via Skype, you can easily set up your own tutoring biz!
You could also accept papers via email, and correct them and give feedback.
Just make sure you clearly communicate that you won’t be writing the paper for the student. That’s a whole other side hustle, and it’s unethical and you don’t want to be a part of it.How do you make money as a creative writer? Click To Tweet
How do you make money with your writing?
What are some ways you’ve made money as a writer? Have you ever tried tutoring? I love travel writing, and plan to do more of it in 2020. What about you?